Mediterranean Spring Rolls and Airport Layovers

by Sarah on March 17, 2010

spring roll

At Miami International Airport I picked up a copy of Fine Cooking magazine to pass the hours before my flight, oblivious to time until I was shocked into reaction mode upon hearing “Last Call for New York City, JFK, gate 50” except I was at gate 24 waiting patiently for a flight to the… Cayman Islands? Of course if I bothered to look around I would have realized I was in the wrong place, surrounded by a disproportionate number of beautiful couples all dressed in vacation chic. So off I dashed, looking like an accident until I reached an attendant who asked serenely “Gate 50?”

“What does it #%$##$%^$# look like? I am running around the airport for FUN?” Actually, I just nodded but sometimes I think the attendants like giving last minute calls just for the amusement of watching flailing travelers run up and down the airport.

So after travelling for 24 hours I arrived home and that is the best feeling in the world.

Spring roll

Spiced Lemon Chicken Spring Roll

This recipe was inspired by Fine Cooking  magazine’s recipe for Thai spring rolls but because I did not have many of the ingredients including shrimp*, nam pla fish sauce and vermicelli, I needed a few substitutions and a bit of inspiration. In fact one of the only items I did have was coriander, a popular herb in Asia as well as in North Africa, giving me the idea of doing a Mediterranean version of the roll.

This recipe is gluten free and also perfect during the week of Passover when leavened foods, such as bread, pasta and flour are not eaten by observant Jews.

Spiced lemon Chicken

400 grams boneless chicken, preferably thighs cut into thin strips

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon hot Moroccan paprika

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon coriander

Juice from ½ lemon

20 rice paper rounds (22cm)

2 carrots, finely grated

1 bunch coriander chopped

2 scallions, roughly chopped

3-4 leaves romaine or other lettuce, roughly chopped

½ cup toasted almond slivers

Combine all the ingredients for the spiced chicken and let marinate for 1 hour. Drain, pat dry and  fry until golden, preferably in a cast iron skillet. A few tablespoons of vegetable oil can be added so the meat doesn’t stick but I found this was not necessary. Cool.


For each roll set up a large bowl of hot water, big enough to immerse the rice sheets. Dip the sheets into the water, just until they become flexible and lay on a kitchen towel, waiting a few more seconds until it softens. Place the filling on the top 3/4th of the sheet, leaving room on top to fold the roll over.  Add a bit of carrot, coriander, scallion, almonds, chicken and finally lettuce. It should not be more than 2-3 tablespoon. Fold top of rice paper over the filling, closing the sides over while rolling .

I made the Thai dipping sauce based on the recipe from the magazine but think a harissa/tomato based sauced would have better suited the flavors of the roll.

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 ½ tablespoons tamarind concentrate

2 tablespoon soy sauce

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

2 tablespoon chopped coriander

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients and mix well.

*Because shrimp is not kosher it won’t be found in the usual supermarkets but it can be obtained in specialty stores.

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